I don’t read too many contemporary romances, but I love the Beauty and the Beast trope, and the blurb convinced me to give this one a try. First of all, don’t read the blurb if you can help it. It spoils too much. Secondly, this is actually not a Beauty and the Beast retelling; at least there is nothing beastly about the hero’s appearance. He’s a bit broken and it shows in his behavior, but his scars are all emotional ones. Don’t get me wrong, I like a tortured hero too, but again, blurb-fail.
The story follows Lilly, who is something of the prodigal daughter who returns to Scotland for one month out of every year to visit her father. On this trip, she finds his little town is withering away. It seems the so-called Lord of the Isles has holed himself up in his castle and is letting the area die off. Lilly knew Iain when they were children, and she wasn’t a big fan. But when she learns of how he’s cut himself off from everyone, it reminds her of an old friend who killed himself. Determined to be the helping hand she couldn’t be before, she sneaks into the keep with plans to save her old nemesis.
Let me stop here and raise the biggest issue I had with this story. Lilly hasn’t seen Iain in like 20 years. But she not only breaks into his home, drains all his booze and hides his guns… she takes over his life. Yes, a big storm “traps” her in the castle for a few days. But this entire premise strained all credibility. She cleans his house, does his laundry, forces him to dry out, cooks him food and has an endless supply of patience. With someone who is essentially a stranger. And for all of his bellyaching, Iain allows it. I rolled my eyes. A lot. But it’s the crux of the story, so you have to go with it.
Iain is a fairly good tortured hero. He blames himself for the death of the men in his Marine unit. He hates himself for failing to live up to his father’s expectations. One of the best things about the book is watching him go back and forth between pushing away the solace Lilly brings and allowing it to bring him back to life… watching him reject any hope of redemption, while holding on to it like a lifeline. His behavior makes sense. But Lilly is a well that never runs dry, which kind of strains credibility, until all of a sudden she snaps which seems out of character and out of the blue; Very disingenuous and clearly a plot device to get the story where the author wanted it to end up.
Anyway, the sexual tension is good between these two. And the payoff is satisfying. I could also believe in the growing emotions between these two, even if it did happen really fast. It was all such a mixed bag, though, because while there were scenes in the book that I really enjoyed, too much of it felt forced for the convenience of the plot points and that kept me from really connecting.
To be fair, though, it’s got great reviews on Goodreads, so maybe it would be better for you.
*ARC provided via NetGalley
Click to purchase: Amazon
Lord of the Isles
by Caro LaFever
Release Date: April 25, 2016